It’s all well and good to have debated the pre-commitment poker machine legislation back and forth for the last two years, but none of it matters unless gambling venues commit to upholding the responsible conduct of gambling code.
And clubs aren’t doing that. Or not in my experience anyway.
Drug dealers make money from selling drugs. Prostitutes make their money from sex. For three years I earned a living serving people who destroyed their lives and their families with gambling addictions. The only difference with my trade was, it’s socially acceptable.
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Gambling is a serious social problem with horrendous consequences for the vulnerable. I grew up in suburban Brisbane and my most vivid childhood memory of my step father is when he violently ransacked my brother’s school bag for $1.50 and said, “F—k Dean, he can go without.”
He took the boy’s lunch money, slammed the door, and went down to the TAB to place a bet on another horse destined to lose. I’ve never looked at the man the same way since.
Such is the addictive power of gambling that a father would rather see his own son go hungry so he can satisfy his hunger to gamble. Gambling addiction is a disease. It consumes, controls, and destroys. It’s a monster. I know because I’ve seen it. In the long-running sitcom, The Simpsons, Homer Simpson even gave a name to the addictive power of gambling when Marge got hooked on the pokies at George Burns’ casino. He called it “Gamblor”.
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To borrow from their confected dinki-di lexicon, the Australian gaming industry must be officially up shit creek without a paddle if the best it can do is declare that a carefully-considered package of reforms aimed at helping problem gamblers is “un-Australian.”
If being Australian means turning your back on desperate addicts in the name of multi-billion-dollar profits, maybe we should consider moving overseas.
The good thing about moving overseas would be that we wouldn’t have to endure people rabbitting on about how un-Belgian, un-Mexican or un-Ugandan things had become. It’s a construction which seems peculiar to this country. It’s peculiar alright. We spend a lot of time in this country debating what it is that makes us Australian, yet it seems that the people who run the gambling industry have come up with their handy definition of what it is to be un-Australian.
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